What Are Programming Frameworks?

Coding for Beginners
Written by:
App Academy
Published on:
July 18, 2023

Explore the concept of a framework in programming, understand its various types, and learn how they're utilized in the coding world. This post provides a comprehensive guide for beginners and experienced programmers alike.

The world of coding is continually evolving, which makes understanding coding frameworks an integral part of any developer’s personal tech stack. Whether you’re just curious about coding or you’ve already kickstarted your education with a coding bootcamp, understanding coding frameworks will be crucial to your future in the field. We will cover this topic on various fronts to give you a comprehensive understanding of this foundational component of programming.

What is a Framework in Programming?

A framework is a pre-defined structural foundation that you can build software upon. Rather than beginning from scratch, you could use a framework, which provides a starting point that has some of the initial components built-in, such as code modules, libraries, compilers, support programs, toolsets, or APIs.

A framework is essentially a blueprint of standardized structures that can help improve coding speed, ensure consistency, and free up a developer’s time to spend on building the unique aspects of a project, rather than the common functionalities.

In most cases, programming frameworks are set up with specific languages and crafted for various types of tasks. They have been built and tested by experienced developers and are fairly widespread in their use. For example, Ruby on Rails is an open-source framework that helps reduce the repetition often associated with coding. This widely used framework is incredibly popular, having been used to help develop websites such as Twitter, Etsy, and Hulu.

Why Do We Use Programming Frameworks?

Programming frameworks are widely accepted as standardized practice. In fact, they’re considered one of the top coding skills every programmer should have. They eliminate the need to reinvent the wheel so coders can focus their energy on the truly unique aspects of their project, website, or app. Let’s explore some of the compelling advantages of using different types of frameworks in programming.

  1. Frameworks save time. One of the most significant benefits of beginning projects with a coding framework is that it reduces the amount of time needed to write the code starting from a blank screen. By leveraging these prepackaged bits of code, developers can drastically speed up their process.
  2. Frameworks reduce errors. Because open-source frameworks have been contributed to and tested by various developers, they are pre-vetted and often very refined. Errors and bugs in the data are virtually non-existent, providing a stable starting point and reducing the number of errors that could have been present if built from scratch.
  3. Frameworks are adaptable. Frameworks are designed to be adaptable so developers can easily tweak and change them to customize to a specific project.
  4. Frameworks simplify debugging. Even those new to coding know that debugging can be a challenging feat. However, coding frameworks often have built-in debugging and error tracking functionalities. This streamlines the hunt for bugs and helps you identify errors in the code without having to inspect your entire code manually, line-by-line.

Types of Frameworks in Programming

With so many out there, how are coding frameworks categorized? They can be separated out into different categories based on their intended use and target platforms.

  1. Web Frameworks (WF): also called web application frameworks (WAF) or web development frameworks (WDF), these help developers build applications designed for the web. This could include anything from a single-page website, a web application, an API, a web resource, and more.
  2. Content Management Frameworks (CMS): these provide a set of pre-defined tools and libraries with the intention of supporting and managing digital content.
  3. Front-End Frameworks: these frameworks contain basic templates of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Also called client-side frameworks, some examples of these include React (a JavaScript framework developed by Meta) and Angular (a TypeScript-based framework developed at Google).
  4. Back-End Frameworks: also known as server-side frameworks, these provide a starting point for building and deploying web applications from the server. Django is one example of a popular Python framework while Rails is powered by the Ruby language.
  5. Mobile Application Frameworks: as you can likely guess, these frameworks are designed specifically for mobile app development. Some examples include Flutter (Dart and C/C++) created by Google and React Native (JavaScript) from Meta.
  6. Data Science Frameworks: these unique frameworks are designed to help data scientists with analysis, machine learning, deep learning, and more. One popular framework in this category includes TensorFlow for Python (developed by Google).

What’s the Difference Between a Coding Language and a Coding Framework?

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually refer to different aspects of the development process.

A coding language is a set of rules that defines how computer program instructions are written out. Just like a language such as English or Italian, coding languages can be used to explain the same information, but using different words and syntax. This language provides the fundamental building blocks that express logic and interact with software. There are front-end coding languages such as CSS, JavaScript, React, and Swift, as well as back-end coding languages such as Python, Ruby on Rails, C++, C#, and more.

On the other hand, a coding framework is a higher-level set of rules, defined by the intended use and platform. Simply put, frameworks are built out using a specific coding language.

What’s the Difference Between a Coding Library and a Coding Framework?

A coding library is a collection of pre-written codes that developers can use to perform various tasks. Libraries may house modules, functions, and utilities to handle common operations, such as input or output, data manipulation, and networking. Developers can cherry pick a specific function from a library to perform a task or method, as-needed.

A coding framework serves as a supporting structure on which a programmer can start to build. It is a comprehensive architecture that can help streamline development through reusable components. Frameworks often house multiple libraries as a part of their structure.

How to Choose a Good Programming Framework

Choosing which framework to use is an important part of any new project. It’s an all-too-common pitfall for developers to choose the framework they’re most comfortable with rather than finding out if there’s a better programming framework for the project at hand. Here are some tips to help determine the best coding framework for your project.

  • Functionality. Understanding that each framework was designed with a different intention in mind is key to determining the best framework for your needs. Choose one that provides the specific functions that you’re looking for and that will give you a solid base to start with.
  • Documentation. Great coding frameworks will have code that is well-documented and will also often provide implementation training. Frameworks without these features may not be as vetted as others.
  • Ease of Use. Depending on your experience, some frameworks may be more ideally suited for beginners versus experienced coders. If a more challenging framework is needed, you should devote more time to the learning process until you’re up to speed.
  • Scalability. Consider not just the current intention of your application, but the expected growth you plan to see as well. Building your code with a growth mindset will help support those long-term goals. Some frameworks will be more scalable than others because they are more adaptable to customizations.
  • An Active Community. Perhaps one of the most crucial components of a good coding framework, this technology is only as strong as those who support it. With an established user base, a framework will be more reliable and bug-free.

Should You Always Use a Framework?

Frameworks are awesome tools for efficiency, but sometimes they’re not necessary. Below we outline a few of the reasons why you may choose not to use a framework for a particular project.

  • New Frameworks. You can choose to be a part of the vetting community on new frameworks, but when you’re building something important, it may be better to opt for a tried-and-true framework that’s already established. Relying on one that’s brand new could open you up to bugs or security issues.
  • Not Ideal for Small Projects. Some projects may be too small to warrant the time to learn and set up a framework.
  • Restrictions. Although most are flexible, some frameworks have restrictions on use and may not be a one-size-fits-all solution. They may also limit your own creativity if relied on too heavily.

Learn Programming Frameworks and More with App Academy

Programming frameworks play a crucial role in modern software development. By adding efficiency to the process, these structural backbones are leveraged into gorgeous, fully-functional, intuitive platforms of all kinds. Fewer errors, more time for the creative process, and quicker go-live dates make coding frameworks a valuable and fundamental asset for coders of all levels.

Step up your coding skills by learning frameworks (and much more) with App Academy. Our renowned coding bootcamps offer a comprehensive curriculum to equip developers of all levels with the tools they need to succeed. Schedule a call with an App Academy admissions counselor to learn more about our programs. And, if you’re ready to dig in deeper, start exploring our programs to see which one might be a good fit for you!




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